“Detourism”, the official Town of Venice Tourist communication Service Newsletter, today presents the traghetti across the Grand Canal! Enjoy your reading!
In Venice there are over 400 bridges. It wasn’t always like this: in the past, Venetians used to traverse the canals on boats. The oarsmen who took passengers across the city canals actually invented the first public transport system in Venice.
The traghetti (small ferries) – as the rowing boats were called – carried passengers (or goods) following fixed routes, as a regular service. For centuries, the traghetti da paràda – which connected one side of the Grand Canal to the other – (here you can find a catalogue of palaces along the most beautiful street in Venice) have been the fastest way to move from one part of the city to another.
Traghetti still operate today; their stations are strategically located between the four main bridges spanning the canal: San Tomà, Santa Sofia, Santa Maria del Giglio, Riva del Carbon (near Rialto), and Punta della Dogana. San Tomà is undoubtedly the busiest crossing point in the city, and halves the journey time to San Marco from the railway station.
The present-day traghetto is a special type of boat. It looks like a gondola, but it’s a barchéta, more solid and capacious than a gondola. A barchéta can carry up to 14 passengers, rather than just six. And it has different origins. In fact, it derives from a type of boats used for the transport both of passengers and cargo. Between 19th and 20th centuries it was used for transporting sick or injured persons: a sort of ambulance boat. After the introduction of motor boats to transport patients, some barchéte remained in the city. Since 1953, they have replaced the gondolas for the traghetto service.
(Take a closer look at one of Canaletto’s impressive pieces, The Grand Canal, View of the Palazzo Balbi towards the Rialto bridge, which is part of the Ca Rezzonico art collection, exceptionally available in Gigapixel resolution on Google Arts and Culture. Or, learn more about traditional Venetian boats, and take a virtual tour of Venice Naval History Museum).
We are proud to publish some selected contents of such newsletter (see previous post: “Detourism for the Up and Down the Bridges“). On our website, in several episodes, we will only present some samples (see all posts in our archive page “Detourism Newsletter“), but the invitation addressed to all the friends of the Up and Down the Bridges is to subscribe to the newsletter directly.
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